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Guest Post: Different Approaches for Engaging Students in a Study Abroad Class Setting

September 1, 2013

flammOur Guest Post comes from Phillip Flamm, who teaches OM in the ISQS Department at Texas Tech University.

Students in the Texas Tech University Study Abroad program face a few difficult challenges in their Operations Management course every summer. In addition to enduring a 3 hour class period daily, they must stay focused on course work despite the following distractions: (1) Adjusting to different food, culture, etc.; (2) The attractive “night life”; and (3) Side trips 3 times a week that include lots of walking. In short, students who don’t maintain their focus will be dragging to class and struggling to stay awake. This setting is a recipe for disaster for the average 20-year-old.

In a previous Guest Post, I described one potential answer to this challenge: Total Team Collaborative Learning. The course guidelines:

  • Teams of 3,
  • Following each lecture, students review lecture notes to make sure all team members understand the material,
  • In addition, the teams go over all lecture material from each prior lecture. This means that they will go over specific lecture material several times prior to the exam,
  • Team members have a peer review grade,
  • Each team will prepare a short lecture on a particular quantitative method and “teach” the class this method,
  • Teams will take a quiz daily (as a team) from the previous day’s material,
  • All exams are taken as a team (these exams are the same as what I give during the regular semester where average grades are 63 to 65….the lowest team grade was 88/100).

Based a survey given at the end of the course this past summer, students indicated that they retained more in a shorter period of time and understood the material. In short, they loved the Total Team Collaborative environment and sharpened their team building skills in preparation for the time when they will be asked to work on a team with their new employer.

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